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Carers’ newsletter September 2021

Dear Carer, Welcome to our autumn newsletter. Our summer has been very productive, bringing many opportunities to connect with you. June brought Carers Week, and an open day in our Inverurie office. It was just lovely to have the office open again to the people we support, and carer goody bags were made up. We launched carer access to our Quarriers’ Q Learn training courses, as well as a Self-Advocacy course. If you wish to take advantage of these opportunities, please get in touch. We ran Carer Representative training and some of our carers have gone forward to sit on strategy groups. Again, if this is something you are interested in taking up, please get in touch.

Unconditional Love by Alison McIntyre

pre-booking required. We will be delighted to see you there! The cafés will also be offered online, along with our mindfulness sessions. Further information is provided on pages 11-12.

During Carers Week, we launched our photo competition and hosted pop-up information stalls in the community. The photo above right is Unconditional Love by our competition winner Alison McIntyre. In addition, our Virtual Carers Centre was launched in conjunction with four other Quarriers’ Carer Centres. You can read more about this on page 5. This online resource will be further developed in the future in conjunction with our carers so that we can extend the support we provide.

As part of our changes resulting from COVID-19, we have a vital new post in the form of a Carer Researcher. Shravya will be connecting with you to gather your experiences of lockdown and your views on what support you would like to have going forward. In addition, we are keen to reach out and develop our volunteers. A development day will be planned to gather ideas and move things on.

August saw three fun-filled days for our young carers. These Rainbow Days were held at Haddo House and Lochter Activity Centre. It was so special to see our young people again, and further similar events are planned. You can read more and see photos from these events on page 10.

We look forward to increased contact with you in the autumn! Heather and the team

There is nothing like the restricted times we have been working in to make us as excited as we are to reintroduce our face-to-face groups. We have Carer Cafés planned in the Shire from October, with

Heather Knowles Service Coordinator 1

Meet the team

Heather Knowles Service Coordinator

Kirsty Duncan Team Leader (Adult Carers) & Family Wellbeing Worker Tel: 07468 863934 kirsty.duncan@

Kirsty Jackson Team Leader (Young Carers) & Family Wellbeing Worker Tel: 07468 863930 kirsty.jackson2@

Sandra Andrew Senior Administrator Tel: 01467 538700 sandra.andrew@

Julie Applin-Smith Administrator Tel: 01467 538700 julie.applinsmith@

Lora Fenwick Temporary Administrator Tel: 01467 538700 lora.fenwick@

Ann Brodie Family Wellbeing Worker (Respitality) Tel: 07770 373827 ann.brodie@

Linda Camilli Family Wellbeing Worker (Information and Social Media) Tel: 07812 376415 linda.camilli@

Ann Coutts Family Wellbeing Worker (Central) Tel: 07725 593902 ann.coutts@

Jenny Keir Family Wellbeing Worker (Triage) Tel: 01467 538700 jenny.keir@

Shravya Allumalla Family Wellbeing Worker (Carer Researcher) Tel: 07808 241878 shravya.allumalla@


Meet the team

Siobhan Lawson Family Wellbeing Worker (Central) Tel: 07812 228562 siobhan.lawson@

Staff update welcome to the team

Moira Stewart Family Wellbeing Worker (Central) Tel: 07812 228404 moira.stewart@

Shravya Allumalla

Iain McIntosh Family Wellbeing Worker (Marginalised Carers) Tel: 07812 376415 iain.mcintosh@

Alison McKessick Family Wellbeing Worker (North) Tel: 07812 228558 alison.mckessick@

I feel immense joy in joining the Aberdeenshire Carer Support Service as a Family Wellbeing Worker (Carer Researcher). As part of my role, I will be exploring what your needs are and carrying out research into how we can best support you. Along with the fantastic team at Quarriers, I will be engaging with you and asking for your feedback and experiences in order to further improve the service we provide.

Kaye Taylor Family Wellbeing Worker (North) Tel: 07812 228451 kaye.taylor@

Having worked as a carer during the COVID-19 pandemic, I can closely relate to your situation. Moreover, due to my background in medicine and public health, as well as my love for research, I am keen to follow my passion and understand how the pandemic affected you as caregivers. During my spare time, I enjoy being with friends, painting, and travelling. I love helping people, so I work for a charity organisation at weekends. During lockdown, I learned how to play the ukulele to keep myself relaxed, but I’m not sure if my neighbours felt the same.

Yvonne Hobson Family Wellbeing Worker (North) Tel: 07972 849442 yvonne.hobson@

I look forward to meeting you all very soon. 3

Thank you Thank you so much to adult carer Carol Smith for gifting us this fantastic cross stitch, which must have taken a huge number of hours to complete. Carol presented us with the beautiful work of art to express her gratitude to the service. She saw the design and thought it was very meaningful, summing up how we have supported her in her caring role. Alison, Carol’s Family Wellbeing Worker, was left speechless when it was handed it over — something which she admits doesn’t happen very often!

We absolutely love it. It is already up on the wall in our office, where we can all see it and be cheered by it.

New outdoor seating area

Left: Anne Shirran from the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum and District (right) views our new banner. Above: our lovely pots and flowers

pots and flowers. The seating area will be used for socially distanced carer support when appropriate.

Our outdoor seating area around the side of the building has been completed with the help of the Tesco Community Grants fund and a donation from the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum and District. This has allowed for two extra benches, a banner, and the planting of

We would like to express our grateful thanks to both Tesco and the Rotary Club for their wonderful contributions. 4

Virtual Carers Centre launched

Visit us at

We will also explore the feasibility of incorporating a chat function onto the site.

In June, we launched the first stage of the Virtual Carers Centre website, a hub of information and resources for carers of all ages, which we hope will become a one-stop-shop providing all the information you might find helpful in your caring role.

Supporting you to know your rights as a carer is an important part of the role we play. We want unpaid carers to be aware of their rights and entitlements, and to know that there are people out there who can support them, regardless of their needs.

We will always listen to what you tell us you want, so we will continue to develop the site, adding new information, resources and details of local services. The website will always be shaped by the people we support.

We would like to hear from you if there is anything you would like to see added to the website, so if you can find the time, please have a look at the Aberdeenshire section and get in touch if you have any ideas around what you would like to see included.

Our experience tells us that unpaid carers sometimes need information immediately to help with unexpected demands at any time of the day. Access to our office base can also prove difficult for some carers, and we recognise that time available in any given day is limited, so we want to provide a comprehensive resource for national, regional and local information.

You can also stay up to date with all the latest news on our Facebook page: aberdeenshirecarersupportservice


Respitality update by Ann Brodie

Respitality has continued throughout lockdown. From the Respitality global resource website, we were able to use gifts of online breaks such as whisky tasting and cocktail making with both the Lindores Abbey and Dewars distilleries. There were quizzes and an online jewellery making event by the Scottish Crannog Centre. We were also offered a Knit and Knatter event with the local knitters at The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther. Some of these online activities were attended by the cared for person too, and it was good that everyone could get involved.

Gildea and it has such lovely views. I felt myself relaxing and could see how this would be of benefit to carers. “I feel more positive having had a break where I have been completely able to detach myself from things.” “I enjoyed the fact that I had complete peace, no mobile, Wi-Fi or TV.”

Fiona Morris of the Physiotherapy and Pilates Company offered two Pilates classes over Zoom to five carers, and I attended too. Three carers were unable to attend the last session, so Fiona very kindly sent them a video of the class. The positive feedback received included “Thanks for giving us the opportunity to try something new during the pandemic” and “We had a bit of a laugh and a joke. The class was relaxed, and Fiona adapted the class to my abilities”. Fiona’s website for classes in the Inverurie area is

Both carers stated that the owners were extremely helpful and made the break very relaxing. For more information about the Shepherd’s Hut and Glamping Pods, visit I have been busy matching young carers and their families to donations of adventure park day pass vouchers made to Respitality by Crieff Hydro. I can’t wait to hear the feedback from the young carers themselves and hopefully see photos of their fun adventure break.

Two carers each enjoyed a two-night break and were able to get away from it all in beautiful surroundings at the Howe of Torbeg glamping site in Ballater, in a lovely shepherd’s hut with a cosy log-burning stove. I went to the site myself to meet owners Nicole and Iain

Hostelling Scotland has donated two-night B&B breaks in their en suite family rooms, and we have two family carers travelling soon to their Glasgow and Inverness youth hostels. Continued on page 7. 6

Respitality update (continued) like to say a big thank you on behalf of myself and the people we support for the donations given. You have helped to make a carer’s day.

We have been given a donation of a day trip from More in Moray Tours and Transport. A carer and her husband are going on a tour of Speyside, with the itinerary being organised by Claudia Vasto, the company owner. The route will incorporate castles, Speyside in all its glory, and maybe a whisky tour, with, of course, a stop for lunch or a fly cup. When we were given this donation, I could see that it would be very relaxing for a carer to sit back and enjoy, with someone else driving. If you are interested in a self-funded tour with Claudia, visit

If you want to see what Respitality offers, visit RespitalityScotland or search Facebook using the hashtag #MakeACarersDay. If you are a local business and would like to donate a break to us, please contact me on ann.brodie@ If you are a carer registered with our service and would like to be referred to the project, please discuss this with your Family Wellbeing Worker.

It will take a while for businesses to pick up again after the pandemic, but I would

A Young Carer’s Experience by Adrian Milne I didn’t really realise how difficult being a young carer was until I started to compare myself to the kids who didn’t have the responsibility I grew up with. It was my normal. I was there in my family to be depended on, be a protector, and to consequently watch the world spin round from the sidelines. I wasn’t bitter about the role I played and the things I didn’t have, because I appreciated being needed. I desperately wanted to be a good kid and fulfil my duties. But there was a sad acceptance of loneliness and detachment from the rest of the world. I wasn’t raised the same way as most of my peers, I was the “other.” Opportunities passed me by because I was never in the place to take them; too busy surviving to thrive.

who had time to give. I was the kid who had to do the shopping. I was the kid who had to shield my family from prying eyes and unkind words. I was the kid on edge, waiting for the next meltdown. I was the kid buckling under stress.

I simply couldn’t offer much to anyone outside my bubble because I was already bled dry from providing for my family. Often, I felt invisible but necessary. I was acting as gravity, and if I weren’t there, then everyone would fly away into the wind… and I felt that would be my fault.

Being “mature for your age” is a compliment that tastes a little more bittersweet as you get older and realise you didn’t have much of a choice. There are kids who don’t know how to be kids because they just didn’t have the chance. That’s the kid I was.

I wasn’t the kid who could spontaneously hang out after school. I wasn’t the kid who could host sleepovers. I wasn’t the kid

Continued on page 8. 7

A Young Carer’s Experience (continued) My experience was an unfortunate case. I’m not the prime example of all young carers and their situations/feelings towards their status. Not every young carer ends up resenting their role. I had just happened to draw the short straw. But, that being said, I’m not special either. There are plenty of others who are/ were like me and desperately need the support that Quarriers provides. Be it that their family lacks support, there’s abuse going on, or because they just really need a break from their job — that’s what being a young carer is: it’s a job. You just sometimes don’t get that holiday bonus.

I was introduced to Quarriers after my crisis point. I had attempted suicide because it was all just too much for me to handle. My situation was severe, there was abuse going on behind the scenes, and not all kids need it that bad. But some of them really, really do. Regardless of the severity of their caring situation, someone whose job is to care for someone should get a break — not just kids, but people. Burnout happens to everyone. If I hadn’t met Quarriers when I did, chances are I wouldn’t be here to write this today. That was the way my life was heading; I was burnt out and fraying at the seams, desperate for a break that just never came. I needed the support they provided. I needed the breaks, the opportunities. A chance to laugh and feel like I really was just a stupid teenager having fun.

Regardless of a young carer’s specific duties to their family, or their feelings towards their responsibility, they all deserve a break. Even if their lives are great, Quarriers are a benefit... and sometimes a lifeline.

An anonymous young carer showcases our support I have been part of the Young Carer Service for almost ten years now. Before and during this time I have cared for my mum, who has had a debilitating spinal injury for the entirety of my life. Due to Mum’s disability, I have had various things to do around the house from a young age in order to assist her. These tasks range from the basics, such as washing dishes, hoovering, etc, to looking after the house for weeks when Mum has been completely unable to move.

Recently, the Young Carer Service put me forward for self-directed support funding, which I and my mother now receive. I was told that the funding is there to benefit me, so to give myself a little more spare time to do the activities that I enjoy, I hired a cleaner to come in throughout the week to assist my mum by cleaning the house and helping her with tasks that she struggles with that I would normally do. In my experience, the passion and dedication that the Young Carer Workers have towards us, the young carers, truly does make a difference and has a positive impact on our lives.

The Young Carer Service has helped a lot during the time I have had their assistance. Over time, I have had six support workers. Of all of them, one stood out who went above and beyond to help me and my mother. Although she has moved on from being my support worker, she has always been at the end of a phone line for me and mum. Heather Knowles went that extra mile, from helping us to advising us who to contact for assistance.


Q Learn and self-advocacy courses

Carers can access Quarriers highquality training courses online at Courses include Acquired Brain Injury Awareness, Dementia Awareness Training, Introduction to Positive Approaches to Behaviour, Safer Handling of People, and many more.

We are delighted to be able to offer carers the chance to access the Quarriers’ online training courses that are currently available to staff members and form part of our ongoing professional learning and development.

Our team can also offer the Carers Self-Advocacy Course from Carers UK.

There are a variety of topics available. You may choose any that seem relevant to you or that you find interesting, and these can be done at your own pace. You can also decide whether to test yourself on what you have learned, and you will be awarded a certificate to show you have passed.

Aims Provide participants with an understanding of the role advocacy can play in being an unpaid carer and the key building blocks of effective advocacy support. This training will help carers to: • communicate more effectively • deal with the emotions that can inhibit self-expression • negotiate more effectively • increase their independence and confidence

We will soon be rolling out self-advocacy coaching. This will eventually be offered on several platforms — one-to-one with a Family Wellbeing Worker, online group sessions, and as a resource on our Virtual Carers Centre. Self-advocacy means “enabling a person to get their own voice heard” (Carers Scotland). The coaching guides the carer through the system, looking at the relationships the carer has with organisations and services that are involved with the person they care for, and carers’ rights. We look at how to communicate effectively and examine issues such as difficult emotions, how they might get in the way of you getting your voice heard, and how to get help dealing with these feelings.

Outcomes 1. Understand the purpose of advocacy 2. Demonstrate the key principles of advocacy as applied to unpaid carers 3. Knowledge of the skills needed to advocate 4. Understand the need for boundaries in the advocacy relationship

If interested, please contact your Family Wellbeing Worker, or email

5. Help carers to advocate for themselves. 9

Rainbow Days events August saw a return to the much-loved group activities for young carers. The Young Carers Team planned three Rainbow Days for young carers to sign up to at either Haddo House or Lochter Activity Centre. These days provided an opportunity for the young people to have a break from their caring roles but also to connect with their peers, who are in similar situations. Young carers were able to take part in a range of activities such as segways, go-karting, bushcraft and archery. We would like to thank the following for their support in running these activity days: Suzanna from the Haddo House Team, Mrs Smith’s café at Haddo House, Jane from AndBreathe123, Wheelie Fun, Myles at Aberdeenshire Bouncy Castle, Alice at Baker Lane, Co-op in both Oldmeldrum and Inverurie, and Lochter Activity Centre.


Carer’s blog by Alison Cram Don’t be SMART

can go pear-shaped, as what I’d hope to do evaporates in the face of unplanned events. When I’m up half the night because Dad’s been agitated; when a carer phones in sick; when Dad’s unwell and I need to call the community nurse or speak to the GP or pick up medication or take a urine sample to the surgery or wash all the bed linen…

Have a goal! Make a plan! Set a target! The relentless self-improvement message espoused in countless magazines, life coaching blogs and boot camp reality TV shows is constantly telling us to set goals for ourselves. And those goals had better be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.

Which is exactly when personal goals become a curse rather than a help. They add extra pressure that I don’t need and make me feel frustrated when I don’t achieve them.

Whether it’s losing two stone for your cousin Sheila’s wedding, getting fit for a 5K charity run or learning to play the guitar by Christmas, you need a clear target to GET MOTIVATED!

So to hell with personal goals, I say. I might look ahead and think about what I’d like to do, but I try to see that as a hope not an expectation.

Well, call me cynical, but I reckon none of that stuff was written by an unpaid carer. To meet goals like these you need time and energy and a fair degree of control — and as a carer I have less control over my life now that I ever have.

I know, I know. Lowering your expectations to avoid disappointment is a little negative. But I prefer to think of it as survival. Or perspective. Or plain common sense.

Looking after someone who has multiple health conditions and is increasingly frail, it’s amazing how quickly a day

It may not be SMART, but I reckon it’s wise.

Support and online groups We are running carer support cafés and mindfulness groups for unpaid carers. These will take place in person and via Microsoft Teams or Zoom. If you are interested, let us know and we will book you in or send you an invite to join any of the online sessions. If you have any questions about joining or accessing any of the sessions, please let us know and we can support you. Date and time


September Wednesday 1 September 1.30-2.30pm

Adult carers support group - A group for those in an unpaid caring role to share information, skills, and knowledge and support each other in a safe, nurturing environment. Via Microsoft Teams.

Friday 24 September 2-2.45pm

Adult carers mindfulness - Explore meditation to assist you in your daily life and beyond. Via Microsoft Teams.

Tuesday 28 September 3–4pm

Mental health inforum – An online group for unpaid carers who support someone with a mental health condition. Via Zoom.

Tuesday 28 September 7–8pm

Mental health inforum – An online group for unpaid carers who support someone with a mental health condition. Via Zoom.

Continued on page 12. 11

Support and online groups Date and time


October Wednesday 6 October 10.30–11.30am

Carer Café - North Aberdeenshire. Crimond Medical and Community Hub, Logie Avenue West, Crimond, Fraserburgh, AB43 8QJ. Pre-booking Required. Also online via Microsoft Teams.

Wednesday 13 October 1.30–2.30pm

Carer Café - Central Aberdeenshire. Community Room, Rowlands Chemist, 32 Market Street, Ellon, AB41 9JD. Pre-booking required. Also online via Microsoft Teams.

Tuesday 26 October 3–4pm

Mental health inforum – An online group for unpaid carers who support someone with a mental health condition. Via Zoom.

Tuesday 26 October 7–8pm

Mental health inforum – An online group for unpaid carers who support someone with a mental health condition. Via Zoom.

Wednesday 27 October 1.30–2.30pm

Carer Café - South Aberdeenshire. Front Room, Belvedere Hotel, 41 Evan Street, Stonehaven, AB39 2ET. Pre-booking Required. Also online via Microsoft Teams.

Friday 29 October 2-2.45pm

Adult carers mindfulness - Explore meditation to assist you in your daily life and beyond. Via Microsoft Teams.

November Wednesday 3 November 10.30–11.30am

Carer Café - North Aberdeenshire. Crimond Medical & Community Hub, Logie Avenue West, Crimond, Fraserburgh, AB43 8QJ. Pre-booking required. Also online via Microsoft Teams.

Wednesday 10 November 1.30–2.30pm

Carer Café - Central Aberdeenshire. Community Room, Rowlands Chemist, 32 Market St, Ellon, AB41 9JD. Pre-booking required. Also online via Microsoft Teams.

Wednesday 24 November 1.30–2.30pm

Carer Café - South Aberdeenshire. Front Room, Belvedere Hotel, 41 Evan Street, Stonehaven, AB39 2ET. Pre-booking required. Also online via Microsoft Teams.

Friday 26 November 2-2.45pm

Adult carers mindfulness - Explore meditation to assist you in your daily life and beyond. Via Microsoft Teams.

Tuesday 30 November 3–4pm

Mental health inforum – An online group for unpaid carers who support someone with a mental health condition. Via Zoom.

Tuesday 30 November 7–8pm

Mental health inforum – An online group for unpaid carers who support someone with a mental health condition. Via Zoom.

How to book your place • For Adult and Young Carer Groups, contact or

Aberdeenshire Carer Support Service Wardes Road, Inverurie AB51 3TT Tel: 01467 538700

• OR telephone the service on 01467 548700 and leave your name and a contact number.

Quarriers is a registered Scottish Charity No SC001960